Volunteer Jam XV: End of an Era - Soapbox Jr.
September 20, 1992.
Despite a wealth of talent, the Volunteer Jam’s run at Starwood was coming to a close, but it went out with a bang.
There were more changes as the CDB moved from its label since 1976, Epic Records, to Liberty Records which had previously been Capitol Records Nashville, and would go back to that name a few years later.
Liberty Records president, Jimmy Bowen, had signed dad to a deal and the two collaborated on a great album, “America, I Believe in You.” One result of the partnership with Liberty was a substantial presence by Liberty Records artists, and many of them were Jam first-timers.
The repeat performers were some of the Jam faithful’s most beloved, Toy Caldwell and George McCorkle, both formerly of The Marshall Tucker Band, John Kay from Steppenwolf, The Oak Ridge Boys, Artimus Pyle from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Willie Nelson.
The list of first-timers reads largely like a roster list from Liberty and sister label, Patriot Records. There was John Berry, Suzy Bogguss, Mark Collie, Noah Gordon, Pirates of the Mississippi, Desert Rose Band, Hal Ketchum, Eddie Rabbitt, Paulette Carlson, formerly of Highway 101, but country wasn’t the only thing on the menu for the day. Jimmy Bowen had signed G.E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band to Liberty, and Derek Trucks, son of longtime Allman Brothers drummer, Butch Trucks, was on hand. Derek was still a kid at the time but grew up imitating Duane Allman. He was 13 at the time but played like a veteran. Rounding out the first-timers were zydeco accordion player Jo-El Sonnier, Little Feat, Poco, country rockers Cactus Brothers and Confederate Railroad, one of the few non-Liberty country acts who performed.
But there was one more.
For decades, the CDB took the stage to the beautiful melody of “Tennessee Waltz,” which is the state song of Tennessee. Pee Wee King, the co-writer of that song was on hand to perform it for the first time at a Volunteer Jam, a very special moment in the Jam’s long history.
It is also worth mentioning that Jam XV broke longstanding tradition and announced many of the major acts that would be performing ahead of time. I think the element of surprise had been replaced with fans wanting to know if their ticket dollars would be worth the price of admission, so in addition to the CDB, Little Feat, The Oak Ridge Boys, Hal Ketchum, The Desert Rose Band, Poco, Toy Caldwell, Curtis Wright and Cactus Brothers were among the announced guests.
Eddie Rabbitt’s performance really stood out as he literally played hit after hit from “I Love a Rainy Night” to “Every Which Way But Loose” to “Drivin’ My Life Away.” He was an outstanding entertainer who left us much too soon at the age of 56.
Little Feat also rocked the house. They had reunited after the passing of Lowell George, and performed a mixture of old and new songs from the classics, “Oh, Atlanta” and “Dixie Chicken” to more recent songs like “Texas Twister” and “Rad Gumbo.”
The Oaks returned with a lengthy set, but as referenced in a previous soapbox, William Lee Golden had left the group, and this was the first Jam performance with Steve Sanders as baritone. of back-to-back hits ending their set with Thank God for Kids, “American Made, “Elvira,” and “Bobbie Sue.”
Willie Nelson was one of the unannounced guests, and the CDB rocked the stage as always, and the final Jam session at the end was outstanding. But I’ve written all of this before.
What it boiled down to was that this was the last official Jam at Starwood. Whatever the reason, the Jam seemed to run its course. Maybe the announced acts didn’t sell the tickets they were hoping for, other big festivals were now competing for ticket dollars, the cost of tickets skyrocketing. Whatever it was, it was the end of an era, an end to the premiere music festival which began in 1974. Not permanently as we will soon see, but the Starwood days and the more or less regular run of the Volunteer Jam officially came to an end.
Thankfully it picked back up again, and we will cover that in future soapboxes which will continue every few days until August 18, the day of Volunteer Jam: A Musical Salute to Charlie Daniels on August 18, 2021 at Bridgestone Arena. Get tickets HERE
“Ain’t it good to be alive and be in Tennessee!”
Let’s all make the day count!
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.
God Bless America!
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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